Getting Things Done on Common Ground

Senator Patty Schachtner

 

Last week, a group of students from St. Croix Central high school visited our State Capitol and I had the privilege of sitting down with them to discuss my role as a State Senator. Their class was focusing on divisiveness in our politics today and I was asked how I navigate that environment. As I have always said, it’s just a matter of communication.

When we take the time to just sit down as neighbors, we find that we have a lot more in common than not.

This is also how I have gotten things done in Madison. While the media portrays an image of divisiveness and partisan bickering, a vast majority of the legislation we pass is bipartisan. In recent sessions, as much as 93% of bills passed in a single session have had bipartisan support. I can say that’s true of the legislation I have worked on as well.

Just last week, I was happy to see so many of my bills pass with bipartisan votes and authors. For example, I joined Senator Robert Cowles in introducing Senate Bill 200 to establish timelines and protocol to prevent a future backlog of testing sexual assault kits. I also worked with Senator Alberta Darling in drafting Senate Bill 332, which will create a Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Tracking system, providing more transparency in the process. For both of these bills, we worked closely with Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. Both bills passed with bipartisan votes as well.

I have also worked alongside Senator Jerry Petrowski in writing Senate Bill 392 to provide funding for regional mental health crisis stabilization facilities to support law enforcement as they respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis. I then signed on to Senator Kathleen Bernier’s legislation to expand hospital bed capacity in western Wisconsin for mental health treatment. I believe addressing our area’s mental health crisis will require a both-and approach and I am happy to support Senator Bernier’s efforts.

I have authored many more bipartisan bills that I hope we will have the opportunity to pass this November. From addressing the issue of youth vaping to providing tax exemptions for gun safe purchases, we have a long to-do list we need to get through.

Wisconsinites are tired of the partisanship portrayed in the media. With 12% of Wisconsin voters splitting their ballot across both parties, it’s clear that what matters is leadership on the issues that matter most, not the letter behind our names. As Senator John McCain said in one of his final speeches on the floor of the United States Senate, “There's greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don't require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people. The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We've seen it before. I've seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career, and by far the most satisfying.”

I agree, Senator.